Straight up, with a twist of Flair

Anyone who has ever ordered a drink at Kahunaville Restaurant and Bar at the Kalahari Resort knows this is not a simple transaction.
John Benson
Apr 8, 2008

Anyone who has ever ordered a drink at Kahunaville Restaurant and Bar at the Kalahari Resort knows this is not a simple transaction.

Instead, the bartenders often show off their talents by flipping bottles, telling jokes, juggling and doing magic. This entertainment style is known as flair, which in recent years has been catching on all over the states.
Hoping to make a name for itself on the national scene, the Kalahari Resort is hosting its first-ever World Flair Bartender Championship, which takes place April 6 and 7 at the popular Sandusky venue.

"We just want to bring that style of entertainment to this area," said Kalahari Marketing Manager Kristann Hartley. "That's what Kalahari is all about, entertainment and the beyond factor. We believe by bringing that competition here we are able to bring a type of entertainment that some people may have not ever seen or may never get the chance to see. "So we're very excited to get the chance of hosting it."

Hartley says April is a down month for national flair competitions, which is why Kalahari scheduled it then with hopes of attracting some of the world's best bartenders. She said this was the case with 42 competitors vying for over $9,000 in cash and prizes at the World Flair Bartender Championship.

The event begins on April 6 with the qualifying rounds taking place in the convention center at Kalahari Resort. Admission is free and there will be free food and drink samples. The final competition rounds are scheduled for April 7 at Kahunaville Restaurant and Bar.

Taking part in the competition will be Kalahari's own lead bartender Colin Griffith, who last year finished in the top ten in the World Championship Flair Competitions. Kalahari bartenders Bryan Hannis and Josh Goldurs have also entered the competition.

Even if you've never witnessed flair bartending in person, odds are you're familiar with the on-screen, bottle-tossing exploits of Tom Cruise in the feature film "Cocktail." The comparison between the movie and the current flair trend is accurate to a point.

"It does (compare), but it's a little bit more than that," Hartley said. "It's bartending at its best. These guys spend a ton of hours practicing. They have their routines that they plan out. It's not just getting out and throwing a bottle or a glass in the air. They spend a lot of time on the planning and prep work."

Hartley said she hopes the World Flair Bartender Championship will create an awe-inspiring experience that will go on for years to come.

"It's just an entertainment style that is something you don't want to miss," Hartley said. We'll have lights going, and we'll have music going," Harley said. "It's going to be quite an event. So it's very exciting, very high energy, very fast paced and just great fun."